It’s been three weeks of taper since my last true long run of this marathon season. My long runs begin and end in Riverside, RI along the East Bay Bike Path. This training cycle I have been heading out in the direction of Bristol, RI and turning around at the halfway point. This is a major departure from my usual training on the Bike Path where I used to run to the 6-mi mark and run back to the car and then head out in the opposite direction towards Providence and then turn around and come back to the car to finish—that was when I was running with my BRFs (best running friends). The early days of my running have created numerous fond memories for me to draw from—the countless hours of running with Pam and Karen. We grew close and the bond of friendship was woven along that straight, tree-lined path. This training season, as I headed out on every one of my long runs alone, while I may have been physically alone, I was far from it in spirit and strength.
In just three days from now I will get into a rental mini-van with The Hubs, Mr. Man, Lil’ One, and my parents and head out on the road towards Toronto, Canada for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. My whole year has been leading up to this coming weekend. I have really run my heart out during the training—digging deep for many of those miles—all 510-miles over the past 15-weeks. In truth, I could not have accomplished that kind of mileage and quality training if it hadn’t been for the support of my family and friends—especially that of my awesome husband and amazing kids. The Hubs is also running the marathon, and unfortunately due to an injury he hasn’t been able to train as hard as he wanted. Instead, he has spent many hours with the kids—allowing me the time for long runs on the weekend mornings; feeding the kids dinner while I headed out for my miles during the week. My kids have certainly sacrificed my time as well—not having me home for many dinners, instead, on some nights having my company with them be on the basement treadmill while they played next to me. Prior to the The Hubs’ injury, when we couldn’t alternate long runs, my parents have been instrumental by hosting sleepovers so that we could do a long run the next morning.
My amazing coach, Tara, has been nothing less that just that—amazing. She has guided me, and some days held my hand virtually, each week. There were many moments of panic that she helped me through—building my confidence back up when I doubted my own abilities. She has spent many hours not only crafting but, reviewing and changing my training plan each time one of my many hurdles popped up in my training cycle. I have had my amazing friends there with me—both the runners and non-runners, old and new friends. I’ve received postcards and headbands, FB messages, and emails…all expressing support and many times talking me off the edge. I am so grateful for all of them being there for me—and they are why I haven’t really been alone on my long runs; I have been carrying each of them with me every step of the way.
As this week marches forward towards the starting line in Toronto, I have a sense of calm that has been with me throughout this taper that I’m hoping stays with me until the very end. On my last long run three weeks ago, I started out the first 2-miles crying. Not because I was in pain…or sad…it was purely an emotional release. I think it was my fears leaving me. I looked up to the sky and remembered my Ragnar legs—running through the epic beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Each of those steps was like a prayer of thanksgiving to God. He allowed me the ability to run, to breathe, and to enjoy the moments that surrounded me. I continued on—being transported back to that far away place gathering my thoughts. My run that day was to be a 20-mile run with the first 14 at my LSD (long slow distance) pace and my final 6-miles to be at marathon pace. When those last 6 came I just let my legs do their thing. I didn’t worry about if I could do it, I didn’t worry that my lungs might struggle, or that my legs were tired. Instead I just kept telling myself to “turn it over” with each step. I finished up those 6-miles without freaking out; instead with a huge sense of pride and a sense of knowing that I can do this. I tend to overthink things and obsess to the point of anxiety—my tapers are usually filled with the typical taper madness that runners experience. I was fully prepared for that—I warned my family and coworkers that I might be short with them; I was waiting for the weeklong phantom pain in my hamstring. But a funny thing happened—I kept waiting….waiting…and save but a day here or there, the madness didn’t come! Instead I have felt a sense of peace with each day that has passed of my taper. The fact of the matter stands that I have done everything in my power to be prepared to race on Sunday. I have put in the work and that is more than half the battle. My body is prepared to do what I need it to do; my mind—I think it’s pretty well prepared for what lies ahead. It will be hard; it will hurt; I will question why on earth I’m doing this; but I will also keep fighting.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous—I sure as heck am nervous! That kind of speed (a hopeful 8:20 pace) for 26.2 miles is nothing that I’ve ever attempted before. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about posting a qualifying time but having it not be enough and still miss running Boston in 2015 because, while I might be fast enough to be a qualifier, I wasn’t fast enough to get one of the spots open for qualifiers. Lastly, I’d also be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous that I would miss my goal by mere seconds—that perhaps has been my biggest fear. Just yesterday, my godson’s father was running the Chicago Marathon and he had his eyes set on the elusive BQ as well. He missed his BQ by 30-seconds. 30-seconds is like a stutter step because someone cut in front of you! But my godson’s father said something to me in a FB message after his race that I will take with me to the starting line—“I was disappointed for all of like 5-seconds!” In reality he had the best attitude towards his finishing time! It’s that attitude that will allow me to continue with this calm that is present within me—it’s not a matter of if I qualify for Boston it’s a question of when I qualify for Boston. Maybe it won’t be next Sunday, but it will happen when the time is right.
I’ve done the work and I just need to toe the line and run with my heart, with all those who have been there for me throughout this journey. I will look up to the sky and ask that the Holy Spirit lift me on His wings and help me to fly—the same way He did when I was at Ragnar. I will run—and run with a light heart and smile on my face thankful for the gifts that I have been given. I will be epic; I will be fierce; I will be calm and remain in the moment—I will have “bitchin’ focus”…I will run. See you on the other side!